CEO change at Alexander Lumber

Russ Kathrein

Alexander Lumber announced this morning that Russ Kathrein is stepping down as president and CEO of Midwest pro dealer.

The move is effective immediately, the company said. 

Kathrein is also chair-elect of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and will assist with Alexander Lumber’s management transition through August.

"We hired Russ in 2014 to succeed my father, Walter Alexander, as the first non-family president in our 129-year history," Watt Alexander, Alexander Lumber chairman, said in a statement issued by the Aurora, Ill.-based dealer.

"Russ has built a strong management team with deep industry experience,” Alexander said. “He’s significantly improved our operating efficiency and raised our game as a family-dominated board. We’re a much stronger company than when he started six years ago. We sincerely appreciate his efforts and wish him all the best on his next endeavor."

In the meantime, Alexander’s board of directors has named Bill Cummings at interim CEO. Cummings is Walter Alexander’s son-in-law and a long-time board member. The company said that Cummings will lead a strategic investment and prepare Alexander Lumber for a CEO search in the first quarter of 2021.

According to Cummings, "Digital technology is beginning to transform the manufacture and delivery of the finished house to the home buyer. We have the team and resources to really hone these capabilities.”

Cummings said the company will spend the next six months intensively reviewing “how we go to market and prioritizing our investment in strategic technologies. My job is to guide that review."

Alexander Lumber operates 12 locations, including two truss plants, in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The board of directors said it made a “deliberate choice” in appointing Cummings. He recently completed a five-year stint running Glassybaby, a hand-blown glass products company, and has “limited LBM industry experience,” the company said.

"Bill's range of technology start-up, senior management, and investment experience is well-suited to lead an objective, in-depth reappraisal of our strategy before we hire our next CEO,” Alexander said. “We have some great LBM folks on the team already. Bill brings an eye for innovation and strategic planning -- a fresh perspective to the business overall. We aren't looking to simply stay the course. Bill's leadership during the transition will determine how we do business for the next decade."

Regarding his departure, Kathrein said, ““I am very proud of the team we have built at Alexander Lumber, a group of hardworking people committed to serving our customers.” 

Kathrein was named as president and CEO of Alexander Lumber in 2018. Kathrein's prior career includes positions at 84 Lumber, the former BMC West (now BMC) and ProBuild (now part of Builders FirstSource). 

“We have evolved from a traditional lumber company to an industry thought leader, developing innovative and sensible solutions to our home-building industry,” Katherin noted. “As the Alexander Lumber ownership pursues a new platform business model, focusing on transforming the industry through technology, I can think of no better person to lead this effort than Bill Cummings.”